We didn’t have time (and it wasn’t the right season) to take in these cultural events as they would ordinarily be performed, so we took advantage of the next best thing; namely, a sort of Reader’s Digest overview of Japanese arts provided by Gion Corner.
The performance begins with a demonstration of Chado, the classic tea ceremony dating back to the 18th Century. The ritualized, deliberate movements of the preparation and serving of the tea was neat to see and gave me goosebumps.
Various performers presented traditional Japanese harp music (Koto) and court music (Gagaku). The narrator explained that court music was performed exclusively at the court and so never caught on among the common people. (After hearing it, I suspect that it might not have caught on even if it hadn’t been restricted to the court — to my ears, it was shrill, dissonant and kind of awful.)
Then came the Kyoto style dance (Kyomai) performed by Geisha. It’s a stylized form of dance that relies on gesture more than facial expression to convey emotion and narrative. The narrative of this dance was “Chasing a butterfly”. As far as we could tell, the “chase” consisted of standing in one place and pointing.
After the performance we made our way through Gion in search of Aunbo, a a restaurant in Gion that came well-recommended by our guidebooks.
|Various bites, including carrot-top salad, asparagus, purple-dyed potato, pickles
and some other stuff I can’t remember right now.
|Eggplant with sauce|
|Crispy fried fish|
|Rice with pickles and a soybean soup|
|Tapioca with sweet red bean paste|
It was dark by the time we had finished dinner, and our walk home was illuminated by a lovely bank of paper lanterns. We don’t know what they were for, but they made us happy.